The Dalai Lama once described the essence of spirituality in one word — kindness.
In the cyberage of materialism and speed, the concept of spirituality is dismissed as irrelevant, obsolete, and archaic.
We live in the brave new world that Aldous Huxley wrote about decades ago. Scientists are preoccupied with genetic engineering — cloning, improving the human race through manipulation of the chromosomes, stem cell, gene therapies, and DNA.
Most people are obsessed with power, progress, success, wealth, fame (or notoriety). Material and commercial concerns such a globalization, being “number one” and winning wars take precedence over what have always been the essential — the intrinsic, ethereal, natural and spiritual.
Material might, prowess, brute strength versus wisdom, grace and goodness.
In childhood and adolescence, in the era of gentility, we learned our prayers and important religious rites of passage. There were many lessons at home and in school. It seemed so structured and strict at that time. But there were reasons (that we could not grasp) for the discipline and rigid rules. We could not question our parent and superiors. We had to obey.
The foundation was cast for a young adult to face the world and tackle its myriad challenges — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
With the passing years, the rigidity of that foundation wavers or erodes. Young adults begin to develop their individual ideas. The early impressions and idealism alter in the context of the real world. It is one filled with pressure, anger, greed and angst.
Matters of tradition, principles, faith, doctrine, and rituals recede to the background. Focus shifts to a different wavelength, to a more pragmatic sensibility.
Many people flow with the tide and choose the path of least resistance. They go through the motions of observing and practicing rites and rituals for convenience and convention. It is driven by a desire to belong, to fit it or to confirm.
Free spirits and liberal thinkers take the more difficult path. To defy convention, they do their own thing, in their own time. The flout convention and common beliefs.
The brave ones denounce the pretense of society and the hypocrisy of the righteous, judgmental do-gooders. There are too many prayer-perfect, pseudo-Pharisees.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.